What would a world look like in which man lives in harmony with nature and it’s animals? A pretty good question which conservationists and numerous NGO’s worldwide are asking daily. According to natural scientist Nigel Stork, the biodiversity of our planet is estimated to include 5 to 15 million different lifeforms and organisms – among them countless animals and plants but also mushrooms. Only a fraction of these has yet been discovered by man. Well, that’s maybe for the better since much of what we discover ends up on the menu eventually (or as a trophy on the wall).
To estimate how well nature and biodiversity are doing one may consult the so-called “Red List of endangered species” that was first introduced in 1962. This list is published by the organization IUCN – the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – and gets updated two times a year. (Which seems necessary to keep up with the speed of decline of earth species). The Red List may be seen therefore as some sort of barometer for the well-being of the environment.
As of today more then 112.000 different species have been analyzed. According to the IUCN more than 30.000 of them – roughly 27% – are considered threatened in their existence. More concrete: around 40% of amphibians – like frogs and toads – are endangered. The same goes for 25% of mammals – like lynx or tigers or pandas or different types of primates. In grave danger are also corrals and conifers of which also 30% are about to become extinct.
The danger-scale of the Red List puts species into different categories marking those that have already become extinct (“EX”), others that are critically endangered (“CR”), potentially threatened (“NT”) or those whose status is of least concern (“LC”). For many species, though there is not enough data available to judge their level of endangerment accurately. Animals like the Bali-Tiger, different types of rhinos, all sorts of reptiles or the mammoth have already gone extinct. Some weeks ago the singing bird Beo was proclaimed zoo-animal of the year 2020 – a somewhat sad award given that it is supposed to heighten awareness for its critical condition.
What only a few deem possible: the big majority of animals that have gone extinct in the last couple of centuries – and there are hundreds of thousands of them – have disappeared from the face of the earth, not due to natural causes like volcano eruptions or forest fires but – you may have guessed it – due to mans ongoing efforts. According to environmental experts of the WWF, the rate of extinction these days is up to a 1000% higher than it should be naturally. That’s pretty astonishing since it is basically just a by-product of human economic and industrial activity.
Recently the worst bush fires in Australian history have – supported by strong winds and little to no rainfall – wreaked havoc of a yet unquantifiable kind. Experts estimate that the fires have killed up to half a billion animals so far. Many ancient forests resemble surreal lunar landscapes made of charcoal. Man it seems has had a hand in this catastrophe building dams, drying out rivers and thereby worsening the drought of wide areas. But amid the blaze there were also many people going full hero and saving kangaroos and koalas from certain death while putting their own lives on the line.
More rapidly than ever biodiversity has declined between the 17. And 20. Century – when man really started conquering the earth and began industrial activity. The growth of the human population and it’s ever-increasing need for resources is paid for by mother nature. To meet our needs rivers are dammed and restructured, forests get burned and cut down and ancient biospheres are destroyed for agriculture and hotel resorts.
Luckily today awareness grows pretty much everywhere for the consequences of such manipulations of nature and the effects of pesticides, chemicals like fertilizers or plastic waste on the environment. Thinking and living sustainable is becoming more and more popular and celebrates its first small victories – but looking back at centuries of reckless capitalizing on the environment one might say it was about time…
Some might have doubts about whether humankind is really responsible for the extinction of so many different species in the last centuries. And to be precise, they are absolute in the right. Most of the time it’s not man manually killing animals but it’s a car-tire or the blades of an agricultural machine or a ship's propeller or a huge dam or a fence cutting through a forest that shortens animals life span dramatically.
Sometimes nevertheless it is, in fact, humans pulling the trigger – especially through hunting and pouching. Trigger-happy and bored VIP’s and royals come to mind that love hunting wild animals for fun (Like the WWF-president of honor and King of Spain Juan Carlos. Google it!) In some parts of the world ivory is still a valuable commodity – and hunters are willing to kill rhinos and elephants for it every day. On different terrain, we have captains hunting sharks for those foodies out there who still got a shark-fin-soup on their bucket list.
The Orang-Utan is hunted down and killed in its natural surroundings for similar reasons. Selfish as mankind is sometimes, the rainforest gets destroyed more and more – thereby pushing the Orang-Utan off the edge. This type of primate lives exclusively on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Those who see pictures of this creature might be reminded of the last visit at the zoo, of King Lui from Disneys Jungle Book or of a slightly orange-colored politician with strange hair-do.
All of these are justified associations. But who would have thought that this primate-species so closely related to us humans is about to go extinct as well? Sharing 96,5% of our DNA the Orang-Utan is having a really hard time living life under humane conditions. The Indonesian word “Orang-Utan” means “forest-human” by the way. Just about 50.000 of them are still climbing the trees of Borneo. It used to be more than 200.000 according to scientists. Citing a study from 2018 over 100.000 Orang-Utans have been killed in the last 16 years. That’s an average of 17 per day. (WTF?)
Scientists estimate that most of them have been killed by forest fires started to gain space for agricultural plants and crops, by hunters as well as farmers that see them as a trophy or a threat to their plantations. The organization BOS – Borneo Orangutan Survival tries to save this species life and has established a rescue station for abandoned baby-Orang-Utans which takes the young primates in, gives them a home and teaches them the most basic skills to – one day! – return safely to their natural habitat.
EMERALD BERLIN likes to support the work of BOS – Borneo Orangutan Survival. That’s why we have created a unique fashion-collection spreading awareness and advertising the organisations work to best of our abilities. With this clothing-line, we can support a good cause and stress the importance of wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
For more information on the project visit our website and have a look at our statement-fashion-collection EMERALD x BOS – Borneo Orangutan Survival. Thank you so much for your support!
The author of this blog-article is Marc Dassen. You want to leave him a comment or ask a question? Send him an e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org.